You completed your finals, got your diploma and … have to move into your parents’ basement? While today’s job market is certainly tougher for recent college graduates than it has been in several years, there is no need to make the same mistakes that hold back so many graduates from landing their first job. Let’s look at a few common errors that stop new graduates from becoming new hires:
While searching for a position:
What not to do: Fail to take advantage of the four years you spent building relationships with well-connected people you could be using as networking contacts who already know your academic record and job skills.
What you can do instead: Career services offices exist to find opportunities for students and often offer alumni networks. Professors keep in touch with experts in their fields of study. Administrators are in regular contact with leaders at all kinds of organizations. The best part is that all three of these groups have a vested interest in seeing you, their former student, succeed after graduation. Do not neglect a network you spent four years living with, studying for and working under.
When thinking about your old internship:
What not to do: Decide not to call the company you interned with as a student because you spent most of your summer answering phones and making coffee. By making that decision, you miss out on an opportunity to pursue one of the few companies with which you have a professional employment history.
What you can do instead: Get in touch with your former supervisor to see if any positions are open or will be soon. Ask how things around the office have been and mention a few new skills you have picked up. Even if you cannot stand the thought of going back, you may be qualified for a position you would not have known about in a different department if you had not called. If there are no current job openings, you can still ask your former supervisor to reach out to you if he or she hears about anything you might be interested in.
While perusing the classifieds:
What not to do: Sift through job listing after job listing while subconsciously saying to yourself, “Internships are for students. I need a real job now!”
What you can do instead: Jobs are great, but especially in this market, there are a lot of other good opportunities that many students are overlooking. Fellowships and internships, in particular, have become increasingly popular options for students after graduation, as have service-learning opportunities like volunteering. They may not pay the bills quite as well, but today’s graduates need to be open minded enough to consider these positions – the role they play in adding resume experience and an opportunity to expand your network could be instrumental in finding your next position.